Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lotus flower - and the Norwegian national flower

I have to say that I understand why the lotus flower holds such a special place in many Eastern cultures, like India and Vietnam. In India the lotus is the national flower, and both hinduism and buddhism honours it with a central and significant meaning.

The most evident quality of the lotus is of course its beauty, but that in itself would not be enough to make so many cultures and religions view it as such a special flower. The delicate beauty of the lotus flower is enhanced when compared with its place of growth, which is usually in a pond or river. Its roots are founded deep down in the mud or soil, while its leaves float on the top of the water. The flower itself rises on a stem above the water, and can in such a way be called unpolluted by the elements surrounding it.

From this unmistakably metaphorical state of existence the lotus has lent itself to symbolism in many of the cultures surrounding its natural habitat, and occurs in many a poem, painting, drawing or saying.
In Norway we actually have two national flowers, one, "bergfrue" (saxifraga cotyledon), meaning "mistress of the mountains", was chosen at an international botanical congress in Amsterdam 1935, probably without the participation of any members of the Norwegian people - except the botanists, of course. This plant I have no relation to, probably because it grows more widely in the mountains than in the woods, and it is in the woods that I have most frequently walked about.

The other one is called "røsslyng" (calluna vulgaris) - "ling" or "heather" in English, and in all of its minimalistic insignificance, this choice I can understand. Anyone who has wandered through the woods in the fall, or across the wide mountain plateaus, will have met this sweet-smelling, unpretentious little plant - and that includes most of the Norwegian population. Suitably, this one was chosen in a large radio programme in 1976 (a programme which still has the most listeners in Norway) and probably reflects a widespread fondness for nature and hiking.
This post took a most unexpected turn for me, I intended to write more widely about the wonderful and significant lotus flower, and then a kind of natural nostalgia caught up with me in the middle of the whole thing. And now I have to go back to what I am supposed to be doing; writing along on my masters thesis in comparative literature.
It was nice with a little break, though. So long, existent and non-existent readers.


Anonymous said...

How lovely! I too am fasinated by the lotus flower....after visiting Beijing a few times. I now spend a lot of my time painting them.. At present I am painting a series.
Ienjoyed reading your beautiful writings......Felicity

Jennifer said...

Thanks for your post. I was searching for the national flowers of Norway. Your post was indeed useful.....

Mariah said...

your artical was truly usefull thankyou.

Kendra Criscuolo said...

Thanks for ur post, I am making a shadow box for my daughter-in-law and this helped me a bunch.

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